Part 2) A taste of the North
In most English news these days, when the words “food” and “North Korea” are used in the same sentence, they’re probably not talking about Pyongyang’s restaurant scene. While focus shouldn’t waver from the food shortages and famine, it’s important to remember that North Korea’s food culture and history is rich and varied. Seoul is home to dozens of restaurants owned by defectors or the descendants of Koreans from the North, and it’s not all naengmyeon and mandu—you’ll find stews, seafood and even royal cuisine on these menus. As North Korean Traditional Food Institute founder Lee Ae-ran points out, it’s more accurate to talk about Korean food in terms of regions, not in terms of the sharp division between the North and South. So is there a North Korean cuisine? Perhaps not in strict terms, but what you’ll taste at these restaurants is influenced by the history and geography of the north—go and se for yourself.